Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The TV Experience in the 21st Century

I have been watching the increasing focus on creating a centralized entertainment hub with set top boxes from Amazon, Apple, Roku, Microsoft, and other less established players for years. Though even with the new content options my family still often struggles with what to watch. I recently read the great article in Techcrunch by Tom Goodwin called the Future of TV isn’t Apps, which I thought gave a good voice to my issue.

As the article states well, while the set box has changed the experience remains largely unchanged save for the content being on demand. Content is still organized into different silos (i.e. channels) and you often need jump between different apps to watch the shows you follow. Apple’s TV app they announced earlier this fall and released earlier this December attempts to tackle the issue through interconnecting different content apps into a single interface. The app allows for a single search interface that combines results from across different providers. Though it relies upon the willingness of the different content providers to allow access to to their content via Apple’s service and those same providers have an invested interest maintaining the link between content and channel: brand. Providers like AMC or HBO have spent significant time and money to build a brand around premium content and want those shows personified with their brand as its how they lure subscribers to pay for their channel. Till the pricing model shifts or there is a precipitous drop in subscribers the channels will try to maintain their control over the brand. Yet as Goodwin states viewing patterns have shifted from networks to specific shows. I watch a few shows regularly across several networks and trying to figure out a cable package that covered everything was impossible.

We had been getting basic cable bundles that was essentially free via our paltry internet connection from the local cable conglomerate. As soon as a provider was offering a Fiber option we jumped into an internet only plan. We haven’t missed the cable content nor being able to watch “live” since we’ve switched plans nor do I imagine that being an issue. Our loyalty is not to a channel it is to the content; we don’t care which platform we use to consume the content only that we can see it.

It will be interesting to see the further shifting priorities between shows and channels. I can see either shows becoming more differentiated from their channels or channel consolidation between different networks and/or channel at the networks.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Switching

On Microsoft’s Windows blog they are touting the success of their Suface line with specific mention that they are growth in switchers from the MacBook in light of the recent disappointment in the new MacBook Pro. For me, I am seriously looking at my next step from a hardware perspective. I am running a MacBook Pro now and the new MacBook Pro does not entice me to upgrade. I dislike the elimination of all ports save for the USB C port and the Touch Bar does not sell me.

I may look at the the MacBook Air though that is many ways is simply stalling as it seems like Apple is no longer as invested in the Mac since the iPhone took off. There is part of me that finds this sad as I love the Mac OS and the small developer community that has been built up around the Mac platform. (That is the downside of being invested in an ecosystem fully owned by a company that owns the software and hardware stack.) I don’t really know where I can go from here in terms of platform. Windows does not appeal to me so that leaves me with options from the open source community or niche experiments like Chrome OS or staying with the Mac and hoping the hardware roadmap changes. My preference is to stay with the Mac though only time will tell.